Linda Hlozansky has a knack for growing things. The Brunswick resident with a very green thumb started getting her hands dirty as youngster, working alongside her father.
“In my teen years, my dad had a vegetable garden. I told him I’d like to have a garden of my own but I wanted flowers,” she said with a laugh. “But he encouraged me.”
The father-daughter team took on that first garden with pride. But it planted a seed for Hlozansky, one that blossomed into a life-long passion for gardening.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, as we all do. But when I retired from teaching I decided to become a master gardener,” she said.
The course takes participants through the various elements of gardening — from soil to fertilizers to pesticides. Hlozansky completed her training in Cobb County, which was certainly a different scenario than the one she found after relocating to Glynn County two years ago.
“Cobb was a horticulture zone seven and Glynn is a nine. It’s determined by climate ... the frost dates, the lowest temperature, the highest temperature, those types of things,” she said. “Our humidity here makes our temperature seem much higher. We are also in a sub-tropical area so the sun is more intense.”
The zone descriptions were just a few things she learned in program. And true to form, after completing her certification, Hlozansky wanted to share what she learned with others.
“I’ve been really involved with educational activities, which makes sense since I was a teacher. I’ve done lecture series at the public library and at the water department,” she said.
“I did that for many years. I have always enjoyed working with people and helping them.”
Since moving to the area, Hlozansky has shared her knowledge as a member of the Magnolia Garden Club in Brunswick. And while she has a lot of experience with flowers, she also has nurtured herbs, including oregano, lavender, rosemary and spearmint.
“It’s fun. I think that it’s a good thing to do, especially if you like to use them. Many people like mint in a cool beverage,” she said.
Gardeners can also use the herbs to craft gifts for friends and relatives. Hlozansky says it is a fairly easy process.
“You can cut a limb of rosemary and blanche it, which means boiling it in water, taking it right out and wipe it on a kitchen towel or napkin. It sterilizes it. Then, you take the leaves off the stem. Put them along with sea salt in a blender and pulse it until the rosemary is ground down and the salt is less granular. Then put it in a shaker jar for rosemary salt,” she said. “It’s a great gift and is wonderful on poultry, pork and lots of other things.”
Lavender is another popular choice for herb-lovers.
“People love the way it smells. You can take a gauze bag and put the lavender in there. You want to use something that isn’t open because you don’t want the oil to get out. Some people like to hang it in their linen closet to make it smell good. It’s a lovely fragrance,” she said.
While herbs are great gifts and home projects, they can also provide an educational experience. Hlozansky says that pollinators love to feast on herbs like parsley.
“Herbs are great for pollinators. Certain butterflies love fennel and parsley. They actually lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. Kids love checking to see if they’ve hatched yet,” she said. “It’s a great science lesson.”
Of course, teaching children how to plant herbs can be a lesson in itself. The planting process, Hlozansky says, is quite simple — as is the care for many herbs. This can be an ideal for families looking for things to do while social distancing.
“It really is quite easy. You can do them in containers or in the yard. You don’t have to have terribly rich soil or a lot of fertilizer. Here, water is key because of our sandy soil. They will just need a little water from time to time,” she said. “But in Europe, they grow on hillsides and they grow wild here too so they’re not fussy.”
In addition to the satisfaction of watching the herbs grow and using them in one’s own kitchen, Hlozansky notes that tending to the garden can be therapeutic during these trying times.
“Gardening is really a healthy and wonderful activity. The sun — vitamin D — is so good for us. It helps us relieve stress so we can just focus on taking care of our own little world rather that what’s going on in the big world outside,” she said.